Custard Cookie Cake

4.82 from 11 votes

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This six ingredient custard cookie cake will blow you away. Not only does this recipe take just 15 minutes to prep, it requires just a few simple ingredients, most of which you may already have on hand. This custard cookie cake is called “Biskvitena Torta” in Bulgaria and it’s an incredibly nostalgic recipe for me. I have been eating cake like this since I was a toddler, and this specific cake reminds me of the hundreds of times I have gathered around the table with my grandma to layer custard and cookies together and create a magical dessert. This cake has brought an incredible amount of laughter, joy, and love into my life, so I hope it has the same effect on you.

This cake is a very traditional recipe in Bulgaria and can be found on every dessert menu throughout the country. There are different variations of it (some with chocolate) but my grandma’s simple version is always the best.

Here I use the classic Papadopoulos cookies, which are a packaged plain biscuit cookie, but you can use any unflavored, crunchy biscuit-style cookie you can find.

Custard Cookie Cake

Not only does this recipe take just 15 minutes to prep, it requires just a few simple ingredients, most of which you may already have on hand. This custard cookie cake is called "Biskvitena Torta" in Bulgaria and it's an incredibly nostalgic recipe for me. This cake has brought an incredible amount of laughter, joy, and love into my life, so I hope it has the same effect on you.
4.82 from 11 votes
Servings: 6
Author: The Modern Nonna
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Resting Time: 8 hours

Equipment

Ingredients 

  • 6 egg yolks (yolks only)
  • 10 heaping tablespoons sugar , (190 grams or 3/4 cup)
  • 4 heaping tablespoons corn starch, (80 grams or 1/2 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla bean paste (or pure vanilla extract)
  • 5 cups warm milk (see notes in recipe)
  • 2 packs Papadopoulos cookies (225 gram packs), any plain cookies will work

Additional Ingredients:

  • water for dipping and softening the cookies prior to layering
  • crushed cookies + walnuts for the top , shaved chocolate or toasted coconut is also a delicious alternative

Instructions 

  • Separate the egg yolks from the whites. If you don't know how to do this, please look at this tutorial first: 4 simple ways to separate egg yolks
  • In a large bowl, add the egg yolks, sugar, corn starch, and vanilla. Whisk well until combined.
  • My grandma and I never measured; we always added heaping tablespoons of corn starch and sugar and never used a measuring cup. Feel free to do this as well or use my exact measurements above.
  • In the meantime, warm the milk on the stove. I add the milk on medium heat and keep a very good eye on it. We don't want the milk to boil, we want it to come to a simmer.
  • Note: when you hear me say that we have to "temper" something, that means we have to bring something up to temperature by slowly adding it in and whisking the whole time.
  • Once the milk is hot, take it off the heat and start adding a little warm milk a time (with a ladle) into the egg mixture as you whisk at the same time, until the mixture comes up to temperature. This is what we call TEMPERING. I slowly add the milk and whisk at the same time until I've used up all the milk.
  • Once this step is complete and the milk is tempered, add the whole egg-milk mixture BACK into the pot. Place it on the stove over medium heat and whisk continuously until the mixture looks thick like custard. It usually takes 5 to 7 minutes for the milk mixture to turn into custard. As soon as the custard is thick, take it off the heat.
  • We can now begin to layer while the custard is hot. Take the cookies and dip each one, one at a time, into a bowl of water. Don't hold the cookie in the water, just submerge it quickly and take it out. Place the cookie in your baking dish and start to arrange them, making a single layer covering the bottom.
  • I arrange 15 cookies in each layer as that is what my baking dish allows for. You may need less/more depending on the dish you use.
  • Once the first layer is done, add 2 to 3 ladles of custard on top, making sure the cookies are fully covered. Repeat this step two more times until you've used up all the ingredients.
  • Note: you are going to dip each cookie one at a time and arrange them. I like making the cake starting with a layer of cookies, layer of custard, layer of cookies, custard, layer of cookies and the final layer with the remaining custard. You should have 3 layers of cookies + 3 layers of custard starting with the first layer being cookies.
  • Once the cake is assembled, cover it tightly with plastic wrap and let it rest in the fridge overnight. You CAN eat it warm but we like to wait so that the flavors can marry and the cookies can soften.
  • Before serving, I like to crush a few cookies and walnuts in my food processor and sprinkle them on top. You can also add toasted coconut as well or even chocolate shavings. Enjoy!

Video

Notes

This cake will last in the fridge up to 3 days. You can absolutely make it the night before for the following day as it’s best served after resting overnight
The topping is completely optional. You can use crushed cookies, crushed walnuts (or both), shaved chocolate, or even toasted coconut. The toppings are all up to you and to taste. 
You will have to separate the yolks from the whites. I like to save the whites and use them for omelets or other recipes. 
If you want to add cacao to this cake and make it into a chocolate custard you absolutely can, as my grandma and I often did. 
Feel free to use vanilla bean paste, vanilla pod, or vanilla extract. I love the Madagascar vanilla bean paste. 
You can use any plain cookies you like. We love using the Greek, Bulgarian, or Portuguese ones (Maria cookies). As long as they are plain tea biscuits, the recipe will work. Here is an image of the ones local to me papadopoulos cookies
You don’t have to REST this cake, my grandma and I would eat it warm when we lost patience but it is best served once rested and the flavors have developed. As the cake rests the cookies will soften in the fridge overnight. 
You can dip the cookies to soften in water, milk, or coffee. We usually use water or milk but it’s up to you. 
If you feel lazy and don’t want to make your own custard you can absolutely use store-bought custard packets but it’s not NEARLY AS GOOD as home made.
If you want to use a smaller dish and make a higher cake, you absolutely can. My grandma (Bapche) used to break the cookies at times in her hands as well and make it into a round dish too.  
To make this recipe gluten/dairy-free: please use your favorite gluten-free cookies. You can TRY plant or lactose-free milk. Alternatively you can look for a custard recipe online that is dairy-free or vegan. 
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Hi! I'm Sneji. Nice to meet you!

I am more commonly known as “The Modern Nonna” on social media where I create easy home cooked meals with a modern twist. I was born and raised in Sofia, Bulgaria and learned how to cook at the best culinary school in the world – my grandma’s kitchen. I lived in Greece on the Island of Crete with my parents for a while and then moved to Toronto, Canada when I was in grade 5. I started to really cook and experiment with food 11 years ago when I was 21 years old. Everything I currently know is a reflection of some part of my life…

Keep up to date with me on social media! Follow @themodernnonna

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14 Comments

  1. This is so delicious and very easy to make. It brought me right back to my childhood and summer days at my grandma’s house in Bulgaria.

  2. One of the easiest and most delicious recipes ever. Just old fashioned homestyle goodness! Thank you.

  3. If you wanted to enhance this with a lemony flavouring, where and how could you apply it? Dip cookies in a lemon flavoured water? Top with lemon curls or rind?